May 8, 2024

Pests in your landscaping can be a problem, and when they are allowed to thrive, they can harm the health and aesthetics of your lawn and gardens. However, the widespread use of pesticides is more harmful than helpful in many cases, and integrated pest management has emerged as the more effective and eco-friendly way to keep landscaping thriving and pests under control.

View of a lush backyard garden lawn surrounded by colorful flowers.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated pest management is an environmentally sensitive approach that is still effective and relies upon several practices focusing on the life cycle of common pests and how they interact with the environment. Integrated pest management minimizes pest damage with the least possible hazard to people, pets, property, and the environment. Integrated pest management will still use pesticides to a degree but will use these methods judiciously. While integrated pest management is often used in agricultural settings, it can also be used in home gardens.

Understanding the Role of Pests in the Ecosystem

Pests are any organisms that negatively affect human, plant, or animal health. In landscaping, they are organisms that damage or interfere with desirable plants or structures built into the landscape. Pests can simply be a nuisance or far more damaging as they transmit disease. Pests can be classified as plants, such as weeds, pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungus), invertebrates (insects, ticks, mites, snails), or vertebrates (birds, rodents, mammals). In short, pests are often unwanted for a specific ecosystem as they damage the organisms wanted in a particular ecosystem. Pests will take resources needed for wanted plants to thrive, cause damage, or spread disease.

Principles of Integrated Pest Management

The principles of integrated pest management consist of six major components.

  1. Correctly identifying the pest causing damage.
  2. Monitoring the area to assess the number of pests and the damage they are causing.
  3. Following the guidelines for when management action is necessary and not acting until then.
  4. Pest prevention.
  5. Using a combination of biological, cultural, physical, and chemical management tools to reduce pests to an acceptable level.
  6. Assess the effectiveness of the pest management tools and follow up if necessary. 

Correct identification is critical, as there are times when damage to landscaping is not caused by pests at all. Pests are necessary to some degree for a balanced population, and disturbing a habitat unnecessarily can make pest problems worse. As healthy plants are naturally more resistant to pests and diseases, proper care can make pest control unnecessary. When pest management is necessary, knowing the correct intervention and timing is crucial to success. Having an expert who understands the principles can help in making those determinations.

Breaking Down the Practices of Integrated Pest Management

Integrated pest management focuses on making the environment a poor one for the pests to thrive while keeping the environment healthy for the organisms you want to succeed. Rather than simply eliminating any pests as soon as they are noticed, you can work with nature to keep pests from becoming a problem.

  • Biological Control: Biological control focuses on using the natural enemies of pests to control the pest populations. A natural enemy of a pest is a predator, parasite, pathogen, or competitor that will limit the ability of the pest to thrive. Most pests have many natural enemies. In many cases, this involves embracing what is known as “beneficial bugs”, pollinators, and insects that will knock out pests. Native ladybugs, lacewings, praying mantis, and other insects can keep the pest population down naturally without harming the landscape.
  • Cultural Practices: Planting native and resistant plant varieties rather than attempting to cultivate non-native plants can help keep pests under control. Working with a landscaping expert can help determine the proper planting method that will help control pests naturally. Taking care of how much you are watering can also help prevent the pest population. Overwatering can cause pests to thrive while keeping the moisture content in the soil at more acceptable levels will deter many pests.
  • Physical Control: Physical control often involves blocking or trapping pests. Screens can keep birds and insects out of gardens, traps can prevent rodents from landscaped areas, and weed management, such as mulching or weed barriers, can help deter garden pests. Making a vegetable or flower garden inaccessible to deer or rabbits can protect the garden without harming the animals.
  • Chemical Control: Chemical control is the use of pesticides. With integrated pest management, pesticides are only used with other methods for a more effective and long-term approach. In integrated pest management, pesticides are applied to minimize the potential harm to people, the environment, and organisms that do not need to be controlled. When using integrated pest management, pesticides will be safe for water, air, and soil and applied only in certain areas rather than a wide spray covering an entire landscaping area. The goal is to remove only enough of a pest to reduce damage.

Staying Environmentally Friendly

Chemicals are not forbidden in integrated pest management, but are used carefully to stay as environmentally friendly as possible. Regular, off-the-shelf pesticides are typically very harmful to the environment, and pests can develop resistance over time when they are overused. The environmentally friendly chemicals used in integrated pest management are targeted only for a particular organism and are not necessarily toxic killing agents. More often, they are repellents or growth regulators that will discourage, rather than eliminate, pests.

Working with a professional landscaper for integrated pest management is the best way to keep your landscape thriving and your home healthy for your family, pets, and gardens. A professional can assess the situation, correctly identify the problems, find solutions that will work in an environmentally friendly way, and evaluate the results. For a greener and healthier landscape, consider integrated pest management with a professional landscape expert over the overuse of heavy toxins.

Embrace the Green Revolution: Choose Integrated Pest Management with Twin Oaks Landscape!

Are pests wreaking havoc on your serene landscape? Say goodbye to harmful pesticides and hello to a greener, healthier solution. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the key to maintaining a thriving outdoor space while preserving the environment.

At Twin Oaks Landscape, we understand the delicate balance between pest control and environmental preservation. Our approach to IPM is rooted in eco-friendly practices that prioritize the health of your lawn, gardens, and the planet.

By choosing Twin Oaks Landscape for your IPM needs, you’re not just investing in a beautiful outdoor space but contributing to a sustainable future for generations to come.

Contact us today and experience the difference of integrated pest management done right!